Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Yeah, every single magazine, website and blog has already posted their "Best of '09" list already.  I was just waiting for them to get out of the way, so mine doesn't get lost in the flood. I'm not great at this. It takes me a few listens and sometimes a few months to really come to a decision on this kind of thing, but as of now, here are my favorite albums of the year that was. They're not really in order... except for the first three.

Bob Dylan's Together Through Life, and not Christmas In The Heart, is my favorite album of the year. It's like if Bob took a Tex-Mex band to the Chess Records or Sun Records studio in the late '50s. If it was Sun, the air conditioning was broken. If it was Chess, it was in August, and the air conditioning was broken. "Beyond Here Lies Nothing" is one of my favorite Dylan songs (ok, that list is over 100 songs long, but still).

The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre is the one album you should buy on my recommendation, if there was just one. They should be the biggest thing, and no one knows who they are! I have to thank Little Steven Van Zandt, who signed them to his Wicked Cool label, produced their record, played on it, and plays their records on his Underground Garage channel. They would be great without him, but I have heard of them thanks to him.

I didn't expect to love Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall as much as I do, I didn't love their last two. But it's just great. I remember a few years ago, VH1 did some documentary on punk rock, and the interviewer asked Lars Fredericksen if punk rock was dead, and he nearly flipped out. He was like, "I live punk rock, punk's not dead!" These guys bleed punk rock, they are the real deal and they are one of my favorite bands.

Speaking of "the real deal," Levon Helm's Electric Dirt is another great album. Whether it's blues, gospel, R&B, rock, country or anything in between, this guys sings (and plays) it with total authority. But it ain't a museum piece: dude rocks the party.

Speaking of rocking the party, check out N.A.S.A.'s The Spirit Of Apollo. It's two DJ/producers: DJ Zegon and Squeak E. Clean (aka Sam Speigel, also known as brother of Where The Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze, which explains the sick guest list). It's like a party on a spaceship that has been boarded by Tom Waits, Method Man, M.I.A. and John Frusciante (to name some of the many contributors to the album).

Also rocking the party, albeit in a more old school way: Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel on their collaboration, Willie and The Wheel. It's party music, but from like 60 or 70 years ago. It always amazes me that Willie Nelson keeps coming up with new things to do, and they work (not always, but when they do work, they work well).

Another great collaboration is the long-standing (and very inspiring) one between married couple Buddy & Julie Miller. I love their Written In Chalk album. It's a real shame that more people don't know who they are. But No Depression did (rightfully) name Buddy their Artist Of The Decade.

The Dead Weather's Horehound... well, I guess it's no secret to No Expiration readers that I'm a huge fan of Jack White's various projects. Part of it is his talent: but a big part is that he is a great collaborator. It works with Brendan Benson in The Raconteurs, and it works with Allison Mosshart (also the singer for The Kills).

Laughin' and Cryin' With The Reverend Horton Heat may not make anyone cry, but it can make you laugh, and at some points, it makes you think (but without realizing it). Check out "Rural Point Of View." Nice reality check for us progressives. Like with Rancid, I didn't love the last few albums by The Rev, but this one knocked me out.

Ben Harper making an album with a new group, Relentless7, and going back to the clubs was a big gamble, right as he was starting to play big venues. But it worked out. It took me a few listens, but I really dig his latest, White Lies For Dark Times. It is his most "rock" album ever, and it's a great one. Well done, Ben.

Muse. The Resistance. Get it. This will be their year. They're huge all over the world, rightfully so, and this should be the album to make it happen here. They opened for U2 in stadiums, and acted like they owned the stage. They definitely kept U2 on their toes.

Four honorable mentions that I feel I have to add: Miranda Lambert 's Revolution, Florence & The Machine's Lungs, Pearl Jam's Backspacer and Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown.

A few more: Rosanne Cash's The List, The Avett Brothers ' I And Love And You, Norah Jones' The Fall, Maxwell's BLACKSummer's Night, Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled debut, Alice In Chains' pretty great comeback Black Gives Way To Blue, and Care Bears On Fire 's debut Get Over It!


pearly said...

avett brothers!

so when are we meeting up for that overdue coffee?

Mel Beavers II said...

Just sampled the N.A.S.A record, I like it. It has a cool cross section or artist. Some songs took me back to the 90s while others kept it really present, and then some took me straight to the future. I am going to have to get some these songs.

Minority said...

thank you for posting Pearly and Mel. The Avett Brothers is definitely a band worth paying attention to. N.A.S.A. is a really "busy" album, but a lot of fun. As Larry Flick points out, I'm not totally a dance music guy, but I guess I like what I like and the N.A.S.A. album is fun.

Ryan McGowan said...

I have Together Through Life, excellent as the last three Dylan albums have been. I also have Let The Dominoes Fall and The Cocktail Slippers Saint Valentines Day Massacre single, but not the album. I'm going to check out the others.

Minority said...

thanks again for commenting Ryan. The Cocktail Slippers album actually sounds like a collection of singles. It is that rare album that is really fun from start to finish. You should check it out! I know I never shut up about this album, but it really is great.